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It’s a debate that we have all heard at some point in our lives – whether or not men and women have the ability to be just friends, or whether these friendships are doomed to evolve into something more given time.

Looking back in history, the relationship between men and women used to be extremely closed off. There was a time where women were seen as nothing more than property, owned first by the male lead of the family, their fathers, and then given (for a good sum in many cases) to their future husbands to spend the rest of their lives under their care, protection, and rules. During these times, any interaction between men and women was limited, even forbidden.

As society has evolved many developed nations have now moved to a more open and free society, with women working towards equal rights and treatment in their respective countries. Despite this sense of freedom and equality, many still question the ability for men and women to maintain a platonic relationship.

The argument has been made that we are genetically programmed to be attracted to one another, thus dooming any attempt for men and women to remain just friends, their relationships only acting as a ticking time bomb until our genetic hard wiring takes over.

Hindu guru Osho was questioned about where he stands on the great debate, and his reply brought up some fascinating ideas. He compares the friendship between men and women to that of a friendship between a jailer and a prisoner, advising that they will both ultimately fail for the same reason.

He was quoted saying:

“Marriage is an ugly institution invented by men for the sole purpose of monopolizing women. Reducing women to ‘things’, men have proceeded to treat them like a commodity itself. The one thing men forget is that by doing so they reduce themselves to that status too, for communication to take place both the parties should be on the same plane.

Marriage is an institution based on lofty lies. The only time we can be sure of is NOW, and marriages ask for a promise of your whole life. It asks you to be together and love and respect an individual till your dying breath. Citing the lore that marriages are made in heaven, this institution overlooks the possibility that there might not even be a heaven. Thus we never try and look towards nature to find the actual solutions to our problems.

Biologically speaking, it’s completely natural to feel attracted to an attractive person. The fast heartbeats and flushed cheeks are simply a natural instinct. It’s a good enough feeling to make people believe that they would like to spend their lives with the person who caused it.”

Osho’s thoughts describe what he believes to be the reason that marriages so often ultimately fail – that the only constant in life is change, making it unrealistic for us to expect a single individual to be attracted to the same person throughout the course of their lifetime. The concept of marriage goes against this concept, requiring people to make a commitment to stay together throughout their lives. Those who fail to follow through on this commitment are often judged.

Osho went on to explain:

“It’s not that lovers lie when they declare that they can’t live without each other. The only thing to consider is that while their feelings are genuine, that genuinity and truth belong in the moment. People are never aware of the flow of life, the person who seems beautiful today might not look the same after a few years. Once the initial excitement and love wears off it becomes bondage.

This bondage leads people to cheat on their partners or else simply stop responding with any enthusiasm. It’s only natural, inherent in the human psyche. Whereas binding people in matrimony is an act that is unnatural to a great extent.

Friendship will be possible once people let go of these bonds. If and when they feel the love ebbing away, they should be free to say so and move on. Only when they will give equal respect to each other will the society be truly free of false ideals and wear its authentic colors.

Due to man’s efforts the society has become unnatural, to the extent that we have to answer to a court of law for our private affairs. This is another way of strengthening the ownership of one over the other. Marriages that become a burden could never raise better children. A child borne out of love would always be better bred than a child borne out of duty.

Absolute freedom should be granted to each individual for his/her life, that alone would lead to true friendship. Love is ever evolving, so when a person you love falls in love with someone else, bear it with a strong self. Your ego gets hurt, but don’t let it ruin your bond with that person.

If you truly love someone, don’t cling to them. Even if they go to someone else, be happy for them. They just might come back to you after getting a fresh perspective, and the same freedom is granted to you too.

We should enjoy life with no restrictions and man-made rules. When we start living it in its true essence, we’ll start appreciating the people around us, and that will lead to true friendship.”